Facebook has suspended another 115 accounts for “coordinated inauthentic behavior” as polls open across the country, bringing the total to nearly 2,000 accounts that the social network has removed for spreading misinformation in recent months.
Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook’s head of cybersecurity policy, said in a blog post Monday night the company had been tipped off by U.S. law enforcement authorities about the trolls.
“Almost all the Facebook Pages associated with these accounts appear to be in the French or Russian languages, while the Instagram accounts seem to have mostly been in English — some were focused on celebrities, others political debate,” Gleicher wrote.
Thirty-five of the deleted accounts were on Facebook, while the other 85 came from Instagram, the Facebook-owned picture app. Facebook has opened an investigation into the suspicious accounts and doesn’t know whether they are connected to the Kremlin-backed Internet Research Agency, but said it will update users if that’s the case. IRA was the troll farm that spearheaded Russia’s efforts to manipulate the 2016 presidential election.
Facebook’s announcement comes just weeks after the social network blocked 82 Iranian accounts for sowing political discord on a wide range of topics, from President Trump to immigration to Colin Kaepernick. That was in addition to the 652 Russian and Iranian-tied accounts that were removed in August for spreading fake news in the U.S. and U.K., as well as 810 accounts deleted last month that were sharing “sensational political content.” Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg, soon after the 2016 presidential election, said it was “crazy” to believe fake news helped elect President Trump. He’s changed his tone in the two years since, saying he’s “dead serious” about the issue, while beefing up Facebook’s defense team in the process.